In Cuba, locked away in a gulag of fidel castro’s creation, are hundreds, if not thousands of political prisoners, jailed because of their passion for human rights and freedom, and their unwillingness to surrender to tyranny.
Here are 10 of them whose names you must know:
1. Antonio Díaz Sánchez
A leader of the Varela Project, an unsuccessful petition campaign for change in Cuba, Díaz has remained steadfast in his opposition to the dictatorship while in prison. Like other prisoners of conscience, he has gone on hunger strikes to demand respect and better treatment by his jailers.
2. Oscar Elias Biscet
Perhaps the best known of Cuba’s political prisoners, Biscet has dedicated his life to peaceful resistance to the dictatorship. Last year, President Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award.
3.Luis Enrique Ferrer García
An organizer for the Varela Project, Ferrer was arrested during the “black spring” of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 28 years in prison — the longest prison sentence handed down during the crackdown.
4. José Daniel Ferrer García
Passion for freedom must run in the Ferrer García family. Or maybe just José, an independent journalist, set a good example for his baby brother, Luis.
5. Reinaldo Labrada Peña
Labrada last year had a chance to be released on parole, but the price set by his captors — a renunciation of his opposition to fidel castro — was too high. He is still in jail.
6. Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Sometimes it is difficult to track exactly how much time a Cuban political prisoner has on his sentence, but if my research is correct, Zapata, who was arrested in 2003, is currently serving sentences totaling more than 40 years.
7. María de los Ángeles Borrego Mir
Not all Cuban political prisoners are men. And not all Cuban political prisoners are convicted of actual crimes, just of being a “pre-criminal social dangers.” The dictatorship has slapped the charge, which carries a punishment of up to 4 years in prison, against Borrego and other dissidents in attempt to silence them.
8. Normando Hernández González
The dictatorship claims Hernández, like other imprisoned journalists, is nothing more than mercenary for the United States. An international writers group last year found otherwise, awarding Hernández with its top prize.
9. Omar Rodriguez Saludes
If the length of his prison sentence — 27 years — Rodriguez is the most dangerous journalist in a Cuban jail. Of the more than two dozen journalists arrested during the “black spring,” none received a harsher punishment.
10. Ernesto Borges Pérez
Not all of fidel castro’s agents are stone-hearted bastards. Borges, a former intelligence agent-turned-political prisoner, is proof that sometimes, there is hope.
To learn more about these, and other Cuban political prisoners, read the profiles posted at Uncommon Sense.